The Cleveland Clinic

Cataract Surgery

Cataract surgery can repair the clouding over the lens of the eye that affects many people as they age.

What Happens During Cataract Surgery?

During cataract surgery, the affected lens is removed and replaced by a plastic, clear lens. There are different surgical techniques used to remove the lens. One method of cataract surgery is called phacoemulsification (FAY-co-ee-mul-sih-fih-CAY-shun). Under local anesthesia, a surgeon uses high-frequency sound waves or ultrasound to break the lens into small pieces. The pieces are removed by suction through a small incision in the eye.

After the clouded lens - or cataract -- is removed, it may be replaced with a new, manmade lens called an intraocular lens. This procedure is called "intraocular lens implantation."

The manmade lens is selected to fit your eye and to help restore normal vision. Even if your natural lens is replaced with an intraocular lens, you probably will need a new eyeglass prescription.

Cataract surgery is usually done in a doctor's office, so you don't have to stay in the hospital. Doctors usually won't remove cataracts in both eyes at the same time. You will be scheduled for separate surgeries.